This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
By the Romans of old a favourite wine was made from Violet flowers. What is known familiarly as Violet powder, for nursery uses, and cosmetic purposes, is the pulverized rhizome, or root stalk of Iris ftorentina, the blue flag. This sweet-scented rhizome is peeled, and dried in the sun, its agreeable violet-like odour becoming thus more fully developed. Orris root contains a fragrant volatile oil, much starch, and some soft brownish resin, of an acrid taste: also some tannin, which turns iron salts green. About Norfolk, and elsewhere in England, a piece of the root is suspended by a tape around the neck of a child who is cutting his, or her teeth, so as to assist the process by munching, and mumbling the tender gums thereupon: when, it may.be that the profuse flow of saliva which is thus stimulated mitigates soreness. But Dr. Pereira admonishes that such a practice is objectionable, since it is not unfrequently attended with irritation of the mouth, and disorder of the stomach and bowels. Furthermore, the risk of the rhizome getting into the gullet, or windpipe, is not to be overlooked. One fatal case of this kind is recorded.
Crystals of oxalate of lime have been found in Orris root.